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We give rigorous analytical results on the temporal behavior of two-point correlation functions (also known as dynamical response functions or Green’s functions) in quantum many body systems undergoing unitary dynamics. Using recent results from large deviation theory, we show that in a large class of models the correlation functions factorize at late times -> , thus proving that dissipation emerges out of the unitary dynamics of the system. We also show that the fluctuations around this late-time value are bounded by the purity of the thermal ensemble, which generally decays exponentially with system size. This conclusion connects the behavior of correlation functions to that of the late-time fluctuations of quenched systems out of equilibrium.

For auto-correlation functions such as (as well as the symmetrized and anti-symmetrized versions) we provide an upper bound on the timescale at which they reach that factorized late time value. Remarkably, this bound is a function of local expectation values only, and does not increase with system size. As such it constraints, for instance, the behavior of current auto-correlation functions that appear in quantum transport. We give numerical examples that show that this bound is a good estimate in chaotic models, and argue that the timescale that appears can be understood in terms of an emergent fluctuation-dissipation theorem. Our study extends to further classes of two point functions such as the Kubo function of linear response theory, for which we give an analogous result.

Joint work with Luis Pedro Garcia-Pintos and Jonathon Riddell